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Closed Captions ? Over 50 Million Reasons to Turn Them On

Contact: Paula G. McWilliams, 412-344-5444

PITTSBURG, May 8 /Christian Newswire/ -- VITAC, the nation's leading provider of closed captioning and other accessible media services, announced today the launch of a national awareness campaign called CaptionsON. The objective of this effort is to heighten awareness of the benefits that closed captions offer to over 50 million Americans—a group larger than the number of uninsured Americans, or Hispanic/Latino voters, or those on Social Security over the age of 65. Captions are not only an essential service to over 31 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, but are a powerful tool to enhance language, reading and comprehension skills in the young, the old and those learning English as a second language. Captions are a free service to viewers and are available to nearly all households in the United States.

"As we begin our third decade in the captioning industry, we would like to play a meaningful role in informing the general public about the power of captioning," says Patricia A. Prozzi, President of VITAC. "Through CaptionsON we hope to increase understanding of the broad impact of captioning, the importance of ubiquitous, high quality captions and provide a way to address the issues, questions and challenges of the ultimate end-user of captions, the captioning viewer."

Three Elements of Note

CaptionsON is being introduced with a short video describing the many "Faces" of captioning, available at the CaptionsON website www.captionsON.com/watchVid.asp.

The site provides user-friendly information and resources for all audiences – viewers, educators, elected public officials, video providers and distributors and the media. "While closed captioning is often considered a service only for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, the reality is that almost every household has someone who can benefit from quality captions," noted Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. "I hope that the American public takes advantage of the valuable information CaptionsON provides."

A major element of the campaign is a precedent-setting initiative, the Viewer Relations Bureau. Housed on the CaptionsON website (www.captionsON.com), this feature enables viewers to submit feedback regarding captioning directly to the appropriate network, local station/affiliate and cable or satellite provider -- all part of the caption distribution chain. This initiative pioneers a simple and convenient way for viewers to make their views known.

VITAC is marking the launch of CaptionsON by announcing today their intention to provide up to one hundred and fifty (150) hours of pro-bono captioning service to nonprofit organizations nationwide who respond between May 8 and June 8, 2008. Given that the lengths of videos vary, VITAC projects this offer could mean between 600 and 1300 separate videos could be captioned. Nonprofit organizations are asked to go to the CaptionsON website for complete details. "This is a wonderful opportunity for non-profit organizations nationwide to ensure that their audiovisual material, intended for general audiences or their clients, students, or employees, is accessible through captions," noted Bobbie Beth Scoggins, President of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), which also administers the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) and co-founded the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT). "CaptionsON will have a positive and profound impact on the deaf and hard of hearing and hearing communities alike."

VITAC Corporation, a Merrill Communications Company, is the nation's leading provider of closed captioning and other accessible media services, with offices in Los Angeles, California, Washington, DC and headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. VITAC provides closed captioning for broadcast networks, cable TV, home video / DVD, teleconferences and Internet programs worldwide. Among the company's largest clients are BBC America, BET, BET J, CBS, CBS Studios, CNN, Headline News, C-SPAN, Discovery Networks, FOX, FSN, FSN Regional Networks, Fox Television Studios, Mark Burnett Productions, MTV Networks, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, truTV, Turner Broadcasting, Warner Bros. Television, The Weather Channel and the Federal Government.